The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

PREVIEW: Ecuador's president, Congress face off in election

Digital Journal, 27, September, 2007
Ecuador's chronically weak democracy stands yet again on the brink of a precipice.

On Sunday, some 9 million voters are called upon to elect the members of a constituent assembly in the South American country. And - depending on the outcome of the election - Ecuador will again have either no president or no Congress.

The left-wing populist Rafael Correa, directly elected president a year ago, has repeatedly said that he will only remain in power if his party, Alianza Pais, obtains an absolute majority, or at least 66 of the 130 seats in the constituent assembly.

Given that there are 3,229 candidates for 130 seats, few opinion polls have been made. A September 10 survey by Cedatos-Gallup International, however, estimated that Alianza Pais would only get 41 to 52 seats.

If Correa does attain his objective, the constituent assembly will have as its first task the dissolution of the unicameral Congress. It would then be tasked with drawing up a new constitution to implement "21st Century socialism" in the Andean country.

For Correa, this concept, borrowed from his friend Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, entails the correction of sharp social inequalities between the country's few rich and its empoverished majority.

Based on its oil wealth, Ecuador could be a prosperous country, but 38.5 per cent of its people live in poverty.

People should further be able to remove elected officials, "from the lowliest municipal councillors to the president," between elections, Correa said last week during a visit to Buenos Aires.

"If a guy does not deliver, then he has to go home," he said.

Democracy should not be limited to casting a vote every four years, Correa noted, although he offered no details as to how exactly such a direct democracy is expected to work.

The Ecuadorian Congress naturally resists its possible dissolution. Speaker Jorge Cevallos has denied that the constitutional assembly would have the right to decide over Correa as president. He said that only Congress can decide the office of the president.

Correa does not have representatives of his own party in Congress, because he declined to field candidates for the socially-discredited legislative body in last year's election.

"Parties have no ideology. They are only mafias organized in order to defend the interests of the boss of the day," Correa said in denouncing his rivals.

The Ecuadorian president had no mercy for his political rivals.

He made fun of banana magnate Alvaro Noboa, the richest man in Ecuador, whom Correa beat in the runoff for the presidency and who now seeks a seat in the constituent assembly.

"Alvarito (Noboa) does not bray, because he is lazy as well as stupid," Correa said.

Of former Ecuadorian president Gustavo Noboa (2000-2002), Correa said that he was "totally under the influence" of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

And Lucio Gutierrez - elected president in 2003 and brought down in 2005 - "lied to everyone," according to the current president. Gutierrez "is an accident in history: he does not even have the capacity to be an errand boy."

"The only thing that beats his lack of mental ability is his moral flexibility," Correa said of Gutierrez.

Correa - like Chavez or Bolivian President Evo Morales - talks a lot about "national dignity" and the "recovery of the homeland."

Ecuadorians are demanding a decisive fight against corruption, more jobs with reasonable wages, homes, food and health services.

Ecuador has had 19 constitutions since it became a republic in 1830, and the current one has only been in place for four years.

Beyond sweet words and new constitutions, Correa will be judged according to whether he can fulfil these hopes of the people.

Indeed, dissatisfied Ecuadorians have in the past had little patience with their leaders, and Correa's last three elected predecessors lost power before the end of their terms.

The constituent assembly is scheduled to start working on October 31 in the small coastal town of Montecristi. The assembly will have six months to draw up a text, which could be extended for an additional three months.

The new Ecuadorian constitution is set to be subjected to a referendum before going into force.

No comments:

Post a Comment